Support your local bike shop!
I’d taken my bike to Vive le Vélo in North Ferriby to have the headset checked and replaced as necessary, this is part of my preparation for the London Edinburgh London event due in July/August. Vive le Vélo have experience with long distance cycling; the first time I visited them I noticed Chris ‘Hoppo’ Hopkinson’s custom Falco bike was in for a service. There’s nothing so reassuring as seeing one of your heroes’ bikes in the same shop as your own. Supporting your local bike shop is important because they know a lot about cycling and care about keeping you on the road.
Over a coffee we were talking about electric assist bikes and I was offered a test ride on the new Giant Full-E+ 2 – I’ve not ridden an electric assist before, so was trying to understand why anyone would take a top of the range, full suspension mountain bike and add a battery and motor to it.
Just outside the shop is the Woodgates Lane climb, 46m ascent on-road over about 1.1km. With the Giant set into ‘sport’ mode I turned right and clicked up the gears – accelerating to 16 mph and holding it there pretty much for the next kilometre. The grin on my face spread from ear to ear; it wasn’t without effort but the return on my effort was like being some kind of superhuman.
I’d switched the Strava app on my phone and discovered I’d hit 8th overall for the climb… it took me a few moments to discover how to remove my ride from the Strava segment leaderboard because this was definiately cheating! While riding uphill with electric assist was lots of fun, ultimately I didn’t think this was what Giant’s engineers had in mind when they built this bike. With a little sneak through a gap in a fence I was onto a dirt track and found that the assist just whisked me through lumpy ground and let me focus on picking a line. The suspension was stunning.
I had expected electric assist to be a bit like a motorbike experience – where the bike responses to the throttle. I was pleasantly surprised that the experience was totally different: it felt more like the bike was my friend supporting me as I needed it and not running away from me. A ham-fisted throttle action on a motorbike can leave you hanging on for dear life – but not with electric assist. It was more like having superstrong legs.
The descent back to Vive le Vélo was an eye-opener too: the full suspension soaked up absolutely all the road imperfections… and gave me a magic carpet ride back to the shop. The hydraulic disc brakes had stopping power akin to the last time I rode a motorbike too. Shifting my weight back in the saddle and using about 80/20 front/rear braking I found the Giant just stopped, totally controlled and totally reassuring.
This is clearly an amazingly capable bike and I don’t doubt it’ll be popular – a big thanks to Vive le Vélo for letting me test that out.
Meanwhile, I’m pleased I took my ordinary everyday (non-EA) bike in: I do need a new headset and I’m glad this is getting sorted before London Edinburgh London. With all the effort to be physically fit it is also important to make sure the bike is in dependable working order too.